E: I love you, writers of The Good Wife. That would be Robert and Michelle King, and Corinne Brinkerhoff, specifically, since they’re officially responsible for this lovely little gift of an episode. Happy New Year to you, too.
Diane stands in a gallery of modern art, contemplating a large Cubist painting hung between three large windows. Classical music with plinking strings plays as she stands like a ballerina (first position!), slender in her day off black. How funny is it that her work clothes tend to be so much more vibrant than her out of the office look? A man hesitates, and then joins her. It takes a second for her to be aware of his presence, her interest in the painting – a lounging nude – is so complete.
“Do you want the spot?” she asks when she finally notices him. He’s tall, middle aged but fit and attractive, wearing a long barn stormer coat. And he’s puzzled by her question. Oh, she says, I thought you wanted the spot. It’s nothing. He leans in, confused. “What’s the spot?” She looks, then decides to explain herself. “If you stand right here, you can see the painter’s signature. The light catches it, just right.” By her feet (slender in black ballet flats) is a small taped x, which yes, marks the spot. The gentleman beside her crinkles his eyes, curious. He does want the spot. She backs away so he can take it; he does, sticking his head forward and squinting exaggeratedly.
“Where am I looking?” he wonders. Is that an Australian accent? She coughs, then points. “The inside top of the right thigh.” Diane moves on to the next painting (or the center of three paintings, anyway, the others veering into the abstract); the rugged, age-appropriate Australian does too, sliding a bit nearer to her than necessary. “That wasn’t a pick up line,” she tells him, “I really did think you wanted the spot.”
“I know,” he claims, smiling but staring resolutely at the painting. “I like your voice. I wanted to hear it again.”
Now that is a pick up line. Or functions just the same, anyway.
“That’s a made up accent, isn’t it?” Diane smirks at him. “Yes,” he replies, turning to look at her, “I use it to impress women in museums.”
And then she’s laughing, and the two of them are seated on one of those wide, cushy backless benches that museums are so fond of, flirting like mad. “Australians don’t ask what people do?” she wonders. “Oh, we do,” he laughs, “we just wait.” “For?” she wonders. “Events to evolve,” he tells her enigmatically. “And how will they evolve?” she asks, intrigued. “You’ll ask me in a few minutes what I do for a living,” he explains. “Because I’m an American?” she suggests. “Yes, and because it’s a natural question,” he answers. “And that is why I have to ask you to dinner.” She finds this uproariously funny. “You have to ask me to dinner before I ask you what you do?” Indeed he does, he says. Hmmm. Not that I’m not enjoying this flirtation, and not that it even matters, but I thought she was going to get a younger love interest? “Promise to meet me?”
She snickers, pleased by his forwardness and his interest. “I can’t do that! First tell me what you do,” she teases, mouth slowly curving into a smile. “And then I’ll decide.”
“I like you, Diane,” he says regretfully, “and I’m only doing this because it’s my job.” He stands, and hands her a yellow envelope. “You’ve been served,” he says, and walks away.
A school bell rings over Diane’s shocked face.
“You’re not going to turn into one of those overprotective moms, are you?” Zach wonders. Alicia’s at the new/old school with both kids; the halls are filled with students and teachers and a few parents as well. How long has Zach been taller than his mother? There’s some sort of welcome poster up over a doorway (interesting since the school isn’t supposed to take on new students mid-year). “Isn’t that Mrs. Hartly, your Middle School teacher?” Alicia asks, watching a man and woman ascend a staircase. It is. “Mom,” Grace nods, pointing out two snotty looking women. “Lillian and Mrs. Brooks – where have they been?” Wait, is one of them supposed to be a high school student? Alicia grits between her teeth, waving with false enthusiasm. “Those poor disadvantaged children,” Grace recites in a posh, fruity voice. “Imagine going to a public school!” Zach adds, not quite able to maintain the same supercilious tone.
“When did I raise such sarcastic kids?” Alicia wonders, laughing and giving Grace’s smiling face a squeeze. “Who’s that?” she asks. Kelsey’s Dad, Grace thinks. “No, I think they moved away,” Zach remembers. And the man? We know who he is, and what that yellow envelope means. “I think he wants you.” That’d be a good bet, Zach. Alicia steps forward to meet the man she thinks is perhaps a teacher. “Mrs. Florrick?” “Yes?” she answers.
In a sunlit ballroom, Will dances with a brown haired bride in a sleekly modern one shouldered gown. The single shoulder is gauzy and glorious. She’s got a bow in her hair made out of netting (not nearly so fussy as it sounds) and dark red fingernails, a surprising choice for a bride. A jazz band plays “Isn’t It Romantic.” Is he dating anyone, she wonders. Ugh. Is this an old girlfriend, I wonder? “Off and on,” he shrugs. “You are the definition of off and on, Will,” she smiles, chastising him. “You gotta get serious sometime!” “Who says?,” he asks. Oh, poor Will. He wants to get serious! And yet he is frustrated at every turn, either by Alicia, or by other women because they aren’t Alicia. “The Pope, I think,” the bride laughs, and throws her arms around him, joyful. “Your time’s up,” she observes, “and I think there’s someone waiting to cut in.” She stares in confusion at the man with the barn coat and the yellow envelope.
“Where are you, Will?” Diane asks from her corner office. She and Alicia slap their summons envelopes down on the desk. “Leaving a wedding,” he growls over the speaker phone, “I think Wendy Scott-Carr’s coming after me with a grand jury summons.” Alicia’s head whips back in shock; Diane leaps in to cover for him, much too late. “Ah, Will, you’re on speaker phone. The summons isn’t about you – we got served, too. Alicia, myself, and David Lee.” Okay. David Lee’s inclusion must point to divorce or family law. Will walks down a city street, handsome in a brown wool coat, but scowling. “What?” he stops walking, “why?” Alicia looks out the window, looking for Will? Looking for answers? “It’s one of David Lee’s divorces. The Huntley divorce.”
“The wife of the venture capitalist? We did well by her, didn’t we?” Alicia thinks so. “Half his business assets, the house in Highland Park, sole custody of her daughter.” Ah, it always comes back to Highland Park, doesn’t it? “She’s not suing us, the husband is,” Diane explains. Uh, that’s pretty weird, right? “What, for being too effective?” Will snarks. “No,” Diane deadpans, “alienation of affection.”
Will stops again. “You’re kidding! What is this, the 30s?” Turns out that Illinois is one of 7 states which still has that law on the books. “Yeah, as a joke. As a Depression era curiosity. What, is he saying we split them up? That’s crazy.” Diane agrees. “Yes, and his lawyer is coming here in a few hours to talk settlement.” And, Will stops. Again. “You think the timing’s suspicious?” Diane does. “3 days before we refinance?” She turns to Alicia and explains to her (and us) that the firm is going through a “short term liquidity problem – nothing to worry about.” Riiiight. “I’m coming in,” Will explains needlessly, “We need to get this off the books fast. Where’s David Lee? What’s he saying about this?”
And that, of course, is the cue for David Lee to burst, cursing, into Diane’s doorway, looking for all the world like Napoleon without the tri-corner hat. He’s got on tight breeches, and a short navy colored jacket with gold braid and embroidery and brass buttons and a white waistcoat. And a cravat. He’s Napoleon – with eyeliner.
“Now I’m being penalized for doing my job well?” he thunders, brandishing a yellow envelope in a white gloved hand. Diane splutters, her jaw dropping. “I… we’ll see you in a few minutes, Will.” She hangs up the phone. “You know what? We counter sue. It’s the principle of the thing,” Lee flourishes. There’s a lace ruff at each wrist which flutters as he shakes the letter. Wow. Diane searches for words. “David. I don’t mean to pry, but – did you enlist?”
“Yes, ” he snarls, annoyed, “I was bored.” He gives her a “very funny, dumbass” glare before explaining himself in high theatrical style. “The Yale Club. I was served backstage during Gilbert and Sullivan.” Alrighty. There it is. And oh my goodness, what a delightful image. Does he sing? And when can we hear him? “Alicia, you were on the Huntley divorce in your first year. He was sleeping with some hooker.” Ah. Of course she was on that. Diane’s pleased. If the husband was cheating, then it clearly couldn’t have been their fault. “Go get Kalinda,” she says, patting Alicia on the shoulder. Alicia gives David Lee a wonderful, wonderful, hilarious once over as she walks past him, her gaze lingering on his costume as she leaves the room.
Diane walks over and plays with his cravat. “There’s, uh, nothing I need to worry about here, is there, David?” For a second, I think she’s talking about his dress up clothes. He pretends not to understand. “I think you know what I mean,” she insists. “This was a straight division of assets,” he protests in a plummy, outraged aristocrat voice, “We were there for her, we did right by her.” Okay, smirks Diane, trying to control her mouth.
From her vantage point, we see Will step off the elevators. “Hi,” Alicia calls to him, and he replies in kind. “Doesn’t add up, does it?” “Not often,” she replies before asking the more delicate question. “Is everything alright?” Yes, he says, I was at a wedding. “No, I mean the Wendy Scott-Carr thing.” Because, duh! And, as Robin Williams famously howled in Aladdin, tell her the truth!
But of course he doesn’t. It’s nothing. He’s, you know, handling it.
“This is an easy law suit, we just need to get to the wife,” Will begins, flipping through his smart phone, but he stops short at the sight of David in all his finery. “I thought I’d dress up for this lawyer,” Lee declares, deadpan. (Damn, I can’t even write that without laughing.) Will doesn’t blink, but he does repeat himself. “We just need to get to the wife. What’s her name?” Alicia supplies it; April Huntley. “She hired us, he didn’t, she’s the one who wanted the divorce, we didn’t force anything on her.” Quite so. “Is she still a client?” She is. “Julius is primary on her business holdings,” Alicia volunteers, “should I call him?” “No,” Diane says, but to a slightly different question, “Will, you call her.”
David Lee is offended. Gee, that’s a shock. “Why?” “Because… Will can talk to her,” Diane replies. Will wonders if they know her lawyer. Someone from L.A., Diane shrugs. “L.A.? Why L.A.?” Will wonders. Why, indeed? Huh. L.A. lawyer. My mind immediately went to Rita Wilson, but guess who it is galumphing off the elevators instead? F. Murray Abraham, also from Net Worth, looking annoyed and bewildered. When Alicia cheerily offers to help him, he gives her an aggressively aggrieved look. “It’s freezing out there!”
“Yes, I know, it’s January,” she replies, a bit snotty, frankly, as if he were senile. “All this affection for seasons, I don’t understand.” “I think it’s about change,” she offers more politely. “Change,” he agrees, “it’s monstrous.” Hah! I love the way he got all worked up over that word. Also – hey! She actually named the month! I’m shocked. We never know when we are here. “May I help?” she asks again. He stares at her, astounded at her lack of comprehension. “I’m Burl Preston, for Diane Lockhart!”
Okay, now, you know it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t ask about the logic of this. At what point could all four of these things happen – Will attends a wedding, Diane walks an art museum, David Lee is on stage and Alicia – is at her kids school? Do I even need to bust out the Sesame Street song? Doesn’t the school stuff imply weekday, and everything else weekend? Clearly from the light this is all taking place during the day (which in Chicago in January has to be earlier than 4 in the afternoon), and even though theater and weddings are more typically evening affairs, I can still buy that. There are afternoon weddings – heck,morning weddings – and theatrical matinees. But the packed school, with kids carrying their books? Yeah, not so obvious. Not that I don’t appreciate seeing the kids be snarky, but still.
But I love this episode, and I am just going to make my observation and move on.
“We thought you could send us an affadavit, saying you asked us for the divorce.” Will’s making the call from his office couch. “Ugh, Jake is such a turd,”April groans over the phone, “he’s really suing you?” Will’s eyes bulge as Alicia escorts Preston into Diane’s office. “April, how does Jake know Burl Preston?” Burl who? “Preston, Burl Preston, he’s an L.A. lawyer, a top L.A. lawyer. ” From one of his companies, April suggests. Venture capitalist, right. Why? “I’m just surprised he would take this case,” Will puzzles. “Maybe he wants part of the 44 million.” There’s a moment of silence.
“Will? Are you there?” He snaps back to attention. And it’s the old mistake. How did she know how much he was suing them for? Uh, because you told me, she claims. But no. He didn’t.
“Miss Lockhart, I always seem to be visiting you in the cold months,” Mr. Preston shudders, staring out her window. “I know,” Diane smiles, ” I don’t suppose you’d fly us out to L.A. for the depositions?” Now that’s an idea, he chuckles. His grin freezes a bit when David Lee marches in, still in costume. “Ah, I don’t think you’ve met,” Diane begins lightly. “Captain David Lee. I was the divorce attorney.” Heh. Glad to see him embracing the absurdity of the situation. And Preston, really, you come from L.A.! Can this be the first time you’ve met an adversary in fancy dress?
“So you’re the one who wrested control of one of my client’s companies,” Preston’s voice rings out in a theatrical denunciation. It’s very Gilbert and Sullivan, really. “No, I think he should look to his wife for that. We just got her…”
Hand held out before him, Will races into the room. “David, stop!” he cautions. “Mr. Gardner, hello, good to see you again,” Preston says jovially, but Will keeps his hand up. “They have her. They have Mrs. Huntley.” “Why yes,” Preston informs them smoothly, “Mr and Mrs. Huntley have reconciled. You broke off their marriage, and then hastily sold off their most valuable asset.” The Lockhart/Gardner staff looks collectively appalled. “It was a fair division of assets,” Diane insists. “For you,” Preston says. “Bubble Elastic was the company owned by Mr. Huntley. Mrs. Huntley gained control of it in the divorce.” “Exactly – she gained control,” David Lee interrupts. “Until you sold it earlier this year, at a loss,” Preston finishes. Huh. But then that’s not part of the divorce, that’s part of her business holdings, right? Since the divorce happened two and a half years ago? “It’s now worth 44 million dollars.” Diane looks staggered. “This is not a harassment suit. You conspired to end this marriage for your financial gain. As a result, my client lost out on a 44 million dollar windfall.” David Lee sighs. “And that is the amount you will pay.” As Mr. Preston leaves the room, the four lawyers exchange shocked looks. Diane sits down. “Uh oh,” she says.
It’s hard to hear anything over the din in the conference room until Diane shouts the room down. “It was always in the equity partner agreement!” she thunders. Eli checks his phone, unconcerned, but Julius Cain is on his feet. “I was never in control of Family Law – why should I be held accountable for his screw up?” “My screw up,” David Lee growls (and who else could have been on the other side of that pointing finger? “MY screw up?” Is it a different day? He’s had time to doff his British naval gear, anyway. Someone tries to settle them down, in vain. “No, I’m not going to take that from… him,” Lee waves his fingers in Julius’ direction. “Him? Julius, my name is Julius,” Julius announces, pointing both hands to his own chest. Hee.
“Alright, listen up,” Diane bellows. Will rubs his forehead with his fingers. “We need to win this. Malpractice insurance will not cover this; it’s an intentional tort.” Um, okay. “So we are all on the hook for 1.2 million dollars.”
Now that’s got bratty little above it all Eli’s attention. “Excuse me?” he asks.
“We’re on the hook for 1.2 million dollars. All of the equity partners share everything, in sickness and in health.” David Lee points over at Eli. “Who is he?”
“Um, I just signed the equity partner agreement last week,” Eli begins walking toward Diane, “and you’re telling me I owe you 1.2 million?” “Only if we lose, Eli,” Will pipes up. “Which, given David Lee and his methods, seems highly likely,” Julius gripes. “Oh, go to hell, Julius,” Lee sneers. “There, I said your name, happy?” Eli can’t believe it. “I’ll be happy when you’re disbarred, how about that?” Cain fires back. Will rolls his eyes. There are cries of “moron!” and “bring it on” as Eli stares, aghast, at Diane. “What is going on here?” he can’t help but wonder.
Yeah. Not a great day for maturity, is it?
Alicia watches the boiling cauldron of egos from outside; Kalinda joins her. “One happy family,” the investigator observes, and heads into the fray. Alicia notices Tall, Silver and Australian walking in, this time dressed in black and bearing a long cardboard tube rather than a yellow envelope. She decides to investigate, and arrives at the desk as he’s asking them to “buzz” Diane. Alicia accosts him with her snottiest voice. “Excuse me, this is a place of business. Tory, call security. If you want to serve someone, you can leave it at the desk.”
TS&A smiles winningly. “No, I’m not here to serve anyone! I’m here for Diane, on a, personal matter.” Charm as he might, Alicia’s not buying. “It’s all personal, isn’t it? Mike, would you escort this process server down to the lobby, please?” Wow, Mike’s speedy. “Would you give this to her, please?” He extends the cardboard tube. “You can leave that with the receptionist,” she insists. Ooo, frosty! He does as he’s told.
“The photos are real,” Kalinda says, handing over a picture of a man and woman entwined. “He did meet and sleep with a stripper.” Will sense hesitation. “But?” he asks. “It was not wholly spontaneous,” Kalinda admits. “We did not!” Diane gasps. Alicia looks like she’s bitten into a lemon. “We didn’t,” Kalinda agrees. “Mrs. Huntley wanted full custody of their daughter, and that was unlikely, so David Lee asked me to set up a DUI trap.” Diane can’t believe it. Hmm. I thought those were called honey traps? Also, if Kalinda set it up, how is the firm not at fault? “The stripper wasn’t supposed to sleep with him. She was just supposed to get him drinking above the legal limit, and then a cop I spoke to was supposed to pull him over.” Oh. That’s how. And, hence the name. Kalinda tries to justify the method. “It worked! He had a DUI just before the custody hearing, he lost custody.” Diane takes off her glasses.
“You have such lofty goals when you start a law firm. You have such dreams. You’re fighting injustice, righting wrongs…” Kalinda looks a little embarrassed. “Again, the point wasn’t to get him to sleep with her.” God, I hope not. “Mr. Huntley acted on his own there.” “Was this discussed with the client?” Will asks. Good question. “Mrs. Huntley? Not to my knowledge. She just wanted custody. This was David Lee going the extra mile.” “Yep,” agrees Will, “Good old David Lee. Is this written down anywhere, this DUI trap?” “Possibly,” Alicia thinks. God, did she know about this? “In David’s notes, but I’m not sure.”
“Okay,” says Will, “we need to limit discovery. Kalinda, you do a document sweep. We need to know what skeletons are rattling around.” Diane puts Alicia on “David Lee wrangling.” How much fun is that? Such a lucky girl. Good luck! Diane ushers Alicia and Kalinda out, but asks Will to stay.
“We can’t catch a breath, can we?” That would be no, Will. She shuts the door and walks over toward him. “You need to hire a lawyer.” We can handle this, he says, but this mess isn’t the one she means. “Wendy Scott-Carr,”she says as she lowers herself into a chair next to his. She’s wearing a black ballet necked dress with a necklace of large lavender stones. “I’ve a few names.” “No, it’s alright,” he says, “I’m interviewing Jason Klein and Lionel Deerfield.” Do either of those names sound like the ones they proposed to Alicia, back when she got Elspeth working for her? Oh, I have a really good feeling about this. Diane nods. “They’re good.” Right. “We don’t want this to go to a grand jury,” she adds. He agrees. “You alright?” He is. “If this starts impacting the firm, we’ll have to talk,” he says, quiet but determined. “Will,” Diane replies, fighting for eye contact, “There is nothing we will ever have to talk about. This is a State’s Attorney witch hunt, that’s all. We’re in this together.” Will gives her a fond, grateful look.
The touching moment is soon broken up, however, by the dulcet tones of David Lee castigating a colleague in the conference room. Diane smiles, closing her eyes and pinching up her face. “It’s probably too early to drink,” Will notes. “Two more hours,” Diane smiles, patting him on the knee.
“You need a lawyer,” a slick, handsome man in his thirties raises his eyebrows at Will. “I need a lawyer. Thanks for coming in, Jason. I seem to be the State’s Attorney’s target of the month.” Jason’s brilliant contribution? “Yeah.” Will tries again. “I think their investigation into judicial bribery is getting more serious.” “Don’t worry,” Jason makes a face. “You’ll be fine.” Will’s taken aback. “I will?” “Oh yeah,” Jason pooh poohs the situation, “this is a little hiccup. State’s Attorney just needs to throw it’s weight around a little bit.” It’s weight? Also, what about the grand jury? “Grand juries,” Jason contemplates before bursting into raucous laughter. “They’re a joke! I’m a fighter. We’ll fight them together.” He pumps his fist in Will’s direction.
Can I just saw, ew. I don’t think Will likes frat boy lawyer any more than I do.
“He told me my husband was cheating on me. He showed me pictures.” We see a pretty woman, probably in her early thirties, in a grey knit dress. “I trusted my lawyer. I trusted my firm.” “But your husband did cheat on you?” “No,” Mrs. Huntley exclaims. “He said he’d never met that woman before. She sat down next to him. She offered to buy him a drink.” Well, sounds somewhat plausible given the whole DUI trap issue. Diane slides a photo across the table. “But this is him, kissing her, isn’t it?” The once and future wife brushes it aside. ‘A peck. A peck on the cheek!” she insists. Er, lady, you are just not looking at those pictures. “And didn’t he say this was a set up by your divorce lawyers?” Mr. Preston asks smoothly. “Would you like to take over the questioning, Mr. Preston?” Diane asks mildly. “No, but I thought I might cut to the chase,” he replies.
“Okay, here’s the chase,” Diane counters. “You came to David Lee to divorce your husband?” “No,” Mrs. Huntley says indignantly, “I came to David Lee for advice.” Hmm. “Is this your signature on the attorney/client retainer agreement?” She nods silently. “And what does it say on the top there?” She read it. “Intent to divorce,” she reads, admitting it. “April,” Mr. Preston interjects, “did you try to reconcile with your husband before the divorce?” Yes, she says, grasping at this lifeline. “Twice.” “And when you told your divorce attorney this?” “He showed me these pictures.”
“Of course I showed her the pictures, she was wanting to reconcile with the bum.” Well, David Lee, you sure call ’em like you see ’em. “And you didn’t want that?” “If I’m a shoe salesman, and you come to my shop, it’s not my job to talk you out of it, it’s my job to find a good shoe for you.” Hmmmm. Interesting. “Twice she tried to reconcile. Twice she came to you to call off the divorce.” Preston waves his pen around, and Diane looks down at her notes. “Twice you convinced her not to.” “Because he was shtupping a stripper,” he replies testily. “That is not proven, Mr. Huntley denies…” Lee laughs at the credibility of this source. “Oh my God, he does. How could I have been so mistaken?”
Diane calls to the court recorder. “Mr. Lee was being sarcastic.” But David Lee barrels on. “Who do you call a true friend, the one who sees your husband shtupping a stripper and says nothing, or the one who says something?” Preston changes tacks. “Did you hire the stripper?” Diane’s head whips up. “Did I what? Did I hire this woman? Are you crazy?” Oh dear. “Please,” Preston begins, “answer the question.” So he does. “I did not hire the stripper!”
“You perjure yourself in here, sir, and it’s the equivalent of perjuring yourself in court.” Well, damn. Better weasel word smoothly, dude! “”Thank you,” David Lee replies, deceptively mild. “Go ahead and ask the question again.” “Did you hire this woman?” David Lee glares across the table, and then stands. As he does, Diane notices a man with a coat on his arm – look, it’s Grandpa Gilmore walking across the office! Anyway. David Lee crouches down next to the stenographer. “No, I did not hire the stripper. I did lose my virginity when I was 14.” Ew. I am so disinterested in his sex life, I can’t even say. “I do have a secret crush on Jacqueline Onassis.” Yes, terribly secret. Also, can you have a crush on a dead person? Preston’s tired of this performance art. “Okay, thank you.” David Lee isn’t done. “I didn’t cry when the Challenger exploded.” “Thank you!” Preston calls out, louder.
“Basically, you’re in trouble,” Grandpa Gilmore – who must be Lionel Deerfield, the other possible defense lawyer – declares as he sits across from Will. Well, I guess that’s a step up from the fatuous frat boy. “I’m not here to sugar coat it, Will. You hire me, I give it to you straight.” Well, excellent. And Edward Herrmann has such a trustworthy face, doesn’t he? Even though it’s often used as a blind. “They’re investigating you for bribery, and from the sound of it, they have something.” From the sound of it? Where are you getting the sound from, Grandpa? “Something circumstantial,” Will notes. “For a grand jury that’s enough,” Grandpa notes astutely. So what’s his play? “Turn evidence.” “Against who?” Will wonders. “I don’t have anything.” But isn’t that what Wendy wants him to do?
“Everybody has something,” Grandpa insists. “Give it to them. Will sighs unhappily – it’s half way to a snort – and turns his head. “For a lighter sentence.” “How light?” Will wonders. “Two years, maybe.” Seriously? You’re going to say this based on what? You can’t possibly know enough about the case now to advise him that way. “Probation?” “No, minimum security. Loss of your law license.”
Will freezes in horror. “I could never practice law again?” Like a shark smelling blood in the water, the camera closes in. “That’s right.” Will breaks the tension with a chuckle instead of tears. “God, you’re a bundle of laughs!” Grandpa stares back, phlegmatic, before smiling. “Yep! Old age – my cynicism seeping through like oil through a garden of leaves.” He spreads his hands to illustrate. Will brings his hand to his chin, and Grandpa leans in for some gossip. “Are you guys being sued?” Oh, indeed. I’m sure that never happens to lawyers. “I saw Burl Preston out there.” “Goodbye, Lionel,” Will dismisses the older man. Lionel makes a hands off gesture before rising and heading out. Will meets Diane’s eyes as she looks out of her office at him. He shakes his head slowly. No.
She turns back to David Lee, who is waiting in her office and just barely containing his restless twitching. “Is it true?” she asks. “What – the Challenger? Yes, I didn’t cry.” She sits on her desk and faces him soberly. “David,” she begins, “did you hire that stripper for a DUI trap?” He answers with a justification; “44 million dollars – that’s what I just saved you in there. They can’t prove we hired that stripper, the law suit goes away. And you wanna question that?” He gets in her face, but it’s Diane, and she’s not intimidated. Maybe because they’re the same height when she’s sitting. Or maybe because she’s not intimidated that easily. “I want to question you perjuring yourself.”
Still, he denies it. “I told the truth – I did not hire her.” “Kalinda did,” Diane says, and doesn’t finish with ‘on your orders’ though she might as well have. “This is an adult game, Diane. I’m fine if you don’t want to play, but then don’t ask the questions.” He backs off as if this is the end of the discussion.
It isn’t. “What about Alicia?” the founding partner wants to know. “What about her?” Lee pauses, hand on the open door. “She’s being deposed next – will she contradict you?” Oh, dear. Yes, Alicia and her pesky little conscience. He leaves, looking pained.
Will stands outside Alicia’s office. “Hi,” she says (“and all I could say was hello”!); he breathes the same back to her. She lets him in. “When you had your troubles with the Treasury, the Treasury monitor?” Yes, she answers. “The lawyer you used, she was good?” YES! Eeeeeee! Yes yes yes yes yes! “Yes, she was great,” Alicia confirms. She is! She is the greatest! I love you, TGW writers! Thank you thank you thank you! Doesn’t this just confirm the existence of good in your world? Okay, fine, maybe it was obvious. Maybe we all should have known. (And if we read the casting spoilers, we probably would have.) But what could have been more delightful than this? Who could have brought such a burst of light into this darkness, such a shiny little daisy of hope? Who else could have you dancing around your living room, squealing, because Elsbeth Tascioni is just so daffy and clever and perfectly suited to whup Wendy Scott-Carr’s prim and evil little ass?
Er. Anyway. Back to Will and Alicia.
“What’s her name?” “Elsbeth Tascioni,” Alicia supplies, and the angels sing. “Are you looking for a lawyer?” He might be, he says. God, Will. “Too bad there are none here,” she twitches her eyes, and he smiles. “What’s going on, Will?” Yes, Will Gardner, what is going on? Tell her, you stupid idiot! Tell her! His face grows serious. “You don’t have to tell me,” she backs off. Damn it! “It’s just – I don’t want to make life more complicated. She’s discrete, this woman?” She is. So Alicia knowing about the complications makes them more complicated? Um, no. The silence prevents the complications – and the problems – from being solved. But no, even your moronic macho patronizing insistence on keeping Alicia out of her own business is not going to get me down,Will, not when I’m offered the prospect of Elsbeth fighting for you.
“She’s also… different,” Alicia qualifies. “I’m not sure you’ll get along.” Will squints in confusion. “Is it worth a meeting?” Definitely. She hands over Elsbeth’s card. “Don’t judge by first impression?” She’s uncertain, almost pleading. “Promise,” he says, giving her some grave but reassuring eye contact. Will leaves, and Alicia watches him, worried.
And there’s David Lee to replace him. You know, Alicia can be really rude sometimes. She makes it clear she’s annoyed to see him – but then maybe it’s his false and cheery hello that makes her suspicious. “I’ve done something for you,” he explains, “your children’s trust, I’ve decided to get a jump on it.” Ah. He’s got a thick binder for her. “It was complicated, because I had to anticipate all the ways you could go with your husband. Separation. Divorce.” Right. He sits,and the pitch begins. It’s surprisingly awkward. “So, my memory’s not so good. Your upcoming deposition – I just want to make sure we have our facts straight. Make sure we’re in agreement. You know.”
Right, cause she’s not going to see right through that?
“Will they every dump David Lee?,” Eli asks Kalinda as they look into Alicia’s office. Hmm. Eli. Don’t know how I feel about seeing him now. “Naw. He brings in too much money.” Eli screws up his mouth, thinking. “What if he was costing too much money?” he speculates. “Well,” she shrugs, “it depends on how much money. It’s not about love, it’s about commerce.” Hmmm. Eli purses his lips. “So if I made a play?” Kalinda looks up at him, gauging his seriousness. “It’d depend on the play.” As Lee leaves Alicia’s office, he and Eli exchange mildly hostile glances. “But if you go after David Lee,” Kalinda cautions, “you better win, or it will not be pretty.” Truer words, Miss Sharma, truer words.
“Hi,” Burl Preston smiles at Alicia across the conference room table in his grandfatherly way. She replies in kind. “It’s kind of nerve-wracking in here, hmm, everybody ducking and covering?” She considers this, shrugging. “No, it seems fine to me.” “Really?” he replies, too jovial. “You’re made of stronger stuff!” She smiles at the compliment. “You know the penalty for perjury, Mrs. Florrick?” She does. ‘What is it?” he asks. “Perjury is a class three felony,” she recites from memory, meeting his eyes clearly “resulting in imprisonment for no less than two years and no more than five.”
“Good,” he replies. Just so we know what’s going on. “Good. Thank you. On what capacity did you assist David Lee on the Huntley divorce?” She explains that Lee supervised her work on the division of assets and the paperwork. “And what else?” She’s not sure what he means. “Didn’t you also function as something of a hand holder for my client?” No, she says. Do I like the blue piping on the edge of her suit, or is it fussy? Not sure. “You didn’t?” he asks seriously. “I didn’t,” she replies, pitching her voice low to mock him. Awesome, Alicia. “Oh. I see,” Burl acknowledges. I loathe those colored shirts with the white collars. What is that? Yuck. “Let me try again. Did you function as a hand holder to April Huntley, my client’s wife?”
“I tried to comfort her, yes,” Alicia admits. “You told her you had also dealt with an unfaithful spouse,” he insists. DUH. If Alicia’s eyes were conventional weapons, he’d be dead. “We commiserated over similarities in our personal lives,”she explains. He presses on. “Did you express what a relief it was being away from a cheating husband, saying ‘you can’t imagine the relief you feel that first night, just being alone, having a glass of wine?” Well, that sounds like Alicia, doesn’t it? Diane objects. “Are we really delving into Mrs. Florrick’s private life?” Preston is implacable: “Only as far as Mrs. Florrick delved into it to further the firm’s interests.” What, this is a crime now? Although I suppose I see how they could argue it was persuasive.
(BTW, funny to think, but Alicia’s first night alone was probably when Peter was incarcerated.)
“Did you use your marital status to influence my client’s wife?” Preston asks straight out. “Mrs. Huntley asked about my own experiences, and I shared those with her in an attempt to comfort, that is all.” Alicia’s a really good witness, don’t you think? “To your knowledge,” Preston switches tacks, “did David Lee hire the stripper Alexandra to seduce my client?” No, she says. “You’re under oath!” Burl Preston reminds her, his tone a chastisement. “I recognize that and my answer is still no,” Alicia tells him, all ice and steel. “That seems to be your case, Mr. Preston,” Diane smirks, ” shall we call it a day?”
Ah, but he has one more thing. Someone hands him a large file; from it, he extracts a set of papers to set before her. “Mrs. Florrick, what is this?” The contract for the sale of Bubble Elastic. Cute company name – a little too cutesy, really. “Your law firm negotiated that sale?” “We did,” she answers, eyes narrowing. “Mm hmm,” Preston purrs, “Do you see that last line? What percentage did your firm negotiate for Bubble Elastics’ future profits?” Alicia reads. “It says five, but I wasn’t involved in that.” This would be Julius, then, earlier this year?
“I know, but I thought a third year associate who perjured herself would…” Diane breaks in, unsuccessfully. “… would be the best one to read about the demise of Lockhart/Gardner.” “Is this a deposition or an attack?” Diane finally spits out.
“A little of both actually,” Preston replies. “That line there means that you made more from the sale of this company than Mrs. Huntley did. Does that sound fair?” No, it sure doesn’t. The law firm retained future profits? What? “It sounds like a judgement call,” Alicia replies, still not thrown. “Uh huh, a legal judgement call,” Preston agrees. What does that mean? “Miss Lockhart is right. I may not have you on alienation of affection, but I now have you on fraud.” Oh dear. And, only now, that Alicia has read that? “We’re done here,” Diane proclaims, gathering up Alicia and their things. “Oh no!” Preston calls after them happily, “we’re just beginning!”
Back to the conference room, and back to chaos and name calling; this time, however, Julius Cain is playing defense instead of offense. “It was money! I was trying to make the firm money!” Is that kind of thing legal? Can you really write it in to a contract that you, the contract writer, gets a piece of the future action? Bah. You know, not for nothing, but this is exactly the sort of thing that the Occupy Wall Street people are protesting. Even the venture capitalists don’t think it’s fair! (Course that’s only because they didn’t make the obscene amounts of money on it.) “I’m not paying for his mistake,” David Lee says, echoing Julius from earlier on. “And I’m not paying for yours,” Cain shoots back. School mar’m Diane wants them to raise hands. “I got a 5% return on the company sale – it’s not my fault if David got his client less!” Wait, what? If Julius sold the company, shouldn’t he have been negotiating how much April got, not David? Gah.
“Are you kidding me?” David foams. Eli hisses a bible quote at Diane: “Your left hand doesn’t know what your right hand is doing!” Julius wonders why he’s being penalized for making money. “Because you didn’t tell anyone, and now it’s fraud, you stupid…” Here he stops, under his own steam, and the ellipses seems to hang in the air. Every face in the room is turned toward the diminutive attorney. “You stupid what?” Julius (and his very loud paisley tie) asks, slowly rising. “Come on, say it?” I didn’t say anything, David responds like an annoying 8 year old. He’s offended that Julius would think that of him. More yelling about who’s more offended begins, and Will has to physically restrain Julius. He stands, his eyes closed, hand blocking Julius. “Did the client sign a conflict of interest waiver?”
The room goes silent.
Diane looks to David. “That’s right, she did,” David points back at her. Great, says Will, then we’re protected. “It’s not fraud if she signed a conflict of interest waiver.” Oh, that’s great. That’s so upstanding. We can screw over our client as long as we inform her in advance we might do it? Not to self: if you ever become obscenely wealthy, do not sign conflict of interest waivers. Julius, David, Will and Diane leaf through the contract with Julius and David insulting each other because the rider is not there. Diane’ll get Kalinda on it.
Eli wants Diane’s attention. “We need to talk,” he says.
“Clause 63,” he announces, slapping a document down on Diane’s desk. “In a malpractice case, the partners can vote to hold only the partner responsible for the entirety of the damages.” Diane takes a dim view of this tactic. “We’re not throwing anyone under the bus, Eli!” “Last time I looked, we’re all under the bus. This was a clause insisted on by David Lee. He was the one…” “Who told you that?” Diane cuts him off. Eli’s a little flustered. “Who told me David Lee insisted on it? Kalinda,” he sniffs. Why is she supporting this? Does she not like David Lee, or is she hoping it’ll backfire and get rid of Eli? “He was afraid to be at the mercy of other people’s mistakes. It seems only fitting that…”
Having heard enough, Diane cuts his pitch off once more. “David Lee brought in 30% of the firm’s business this year,” she says. “And 100% of the firm’s malpractice suits,” Eli counters. “Eli, you are a profit participant now. Throwing David Lee overboard is shortsighted. It is reacting to short term circumstances with long term measures, and I won’t do it.” Go Diane with your level head! “No, you won’t do it,” Eli agrees nastily, “because you have a failed romantic notion that what you are running here is a family. It’s not a family, Diane. A family can’t fire you. A family can’t cost me 1.2 million dollars.” Oh, Marissa’s so inexpensive? Your divorce was so inexpensive? I think not.
“‘We’re not doing it, Eli. If David Lee came to me wanting dump you, I’d have that same answer.” Eli’s not listening anymore – he’s watching Julius Cain march out of the conference room. “I can outvote you,” he claims softly. “All I need is the majority of the equity partners.” That’s true, she says. “Too bad you haven’t been fostering relationships.” She opens the door for him, so subtle. He snorts. “No time like the present,” he tells her on the way out. She slams the door behind him. Her bad mood is salvaged, or at least assuaged, by the rolled up cardboard tube left by TS&A. (And you know, I’m happy to have Bryan Brown around myself; he was so great in Cocktail, wasn’t he?) A poster for a Harry Borgman exhibit – was that the one they attended?- at the Chicago Museum of Fine Arts rolls out, and she smiles. A reminder, or an invitation.
The glorious Elsbeth Tascioni stumbles around her office, which is capacious and empty and covered with painting tarps. She apologizes to Will for the state of things. “They keep trying to improve my office,” she explains while setting out a folding chair. “Oooh, wait wait wait!” she cries as he lowers himself to sit on it. She leaps forward to check the seat. “The painters are practical jokers,” Elsbeth explains in her own unique way. And now, they sit. The view behind her is impressive.
“Thank you for seeing me, Miss Tascioni,” Will starts. “I’ve met a lot of lawyers, but Mrs. Florrick swears by you.” Elsbeth guffaws silently. I didn’t know that was possible, but that’s what she did. “Well, she’s very nice.” But she’s not one to talk about herself. “They’re accusing you of bribing judges?” Will nods. “The State’s Attorney’s Office. Yes.” He leans forward, hands clasped between his legs; she’s leaning toward him too, curious, hands flat on her thighs. “But they’re not saying which ones?” Her confusion is plain. No, they’re not. Seems like quite an omission, no? As she squints and thinks about this, her phone starts to ring. She nods for a moment, her eyes flickering to the side.
“Do you hear that?” she asks after the third ring. He does. It rings again. “Fantasia, someone’s calling!” Oh my gosh, that her secretary is named Fantasia, it does not get old. The phone still rings. Will offers to come back again. No, no, she says, stands, and to his shock (and ours) stamps on the ground where the phone apparently rest under a tarp. That’s right. Instead of peeling back the drop cloth, she kicks at the phone with her heels. “Call back! If you can hear me, call back.” She crouches wildly in front of the city scape; the juxtaposition brings tears of joy to my eyes, truly. Again, he offers to make another appointment. Again, she demurs.
“No, no, Mr. Gardner. Who are the three most honest judges in Cook County?” He thinks. “The three most honest – I don’t know. Howard, Spinelli, Cotter – why?” You can see her mentally recording this information as she sits back down, phone sufficiently silenced. “And you’re just waiting around for a grand jury, right?’ He doesn’t like this characterization, but yes. “That’s a mistake,” she declares, excited. “You have to apply pressure to the Special Prosecutor.” How do I do that, he wonders. “Oh, you don’t do anything, I do that!” Ah. Of course. She’s thinking frantically, and counting her fingers against each other, touching her left thumb to the other fingers on that hand. It’s a strange look. “And how do you do that?’ he smiles. “I have no idea, but – just starting,” she says. And then she plays with her hair, and stares at him. “Okay?”
Yes, it’s okay. It’s more than okay, Elsbeth. Seeing you save Will will almost be worth putting him in danger in the first place.
We hear more ringing. She gasps, then stands. “I think that’s a different one.” I think she’s right, but it doesn’t make her sound any less loopy. “Fantasia!” she bellows.
“If it’s logged in, it’s logged in,” a surly, portly fellow with a plaid shirt and sweater vest tells Kalinda. “Yes, but I checked the database, and the contract is there, but one page is missing.” What’s one page, the IT denizen wonders. Dude, wrong attitude. Is this the idiot embezzler who Zach said was charging them for keystrokes? “44 million dollars depends on that one page,” Kalinda explains. Surly IT dude is not moved. “Well here’s a suggestion. It doesn’t exist. Whoever logged it in didn’t get the rider signed.” Can he figure out who that was? “Whoever logged it in is in my database. Computers don’t make things up, people make things up.” He types furiously. “There. That’s who logged it in. That’s who made the mistake, not me.”
Do you even need to look to know that it was Alicia?
Alicia’s working on paperwork – of course – at her desk when Kalinda arrives with the bad news. Immediately Alicia senses there’s a problem. “Ah… the Huntleys – that was your first divorce?’ Second. “And you were at the firm for how long?” Half a year. Why? “You supervised the signing of the contract?” Now Alicia’s really worried. “Yes. What’s wrong?” She can’t spit it out. “I’m… finding dome difficulties in the filing,” Kalinda says diplomatically. (The only good news, right, is that they’re talking to each other pretty normally here. Alicia’s not snapping. This is good. Let’s concentrate on that instead.) “There was no rider.” “In the hard copy, I know,” Alicia smiles, “You have to check the database.”
“I know. I did. It’s not there either.” Alicia’s face wipes clean. “There was a rider.” Is she sure? “I saw her sign it,” Alicia says, searching her memory. Which man, how likely is it for her to remember that 2 years later? “I was there when she signed it. I had to sign it too.” Her eyes flick back and forth in increasing panic. “Oh my God. Are you sure?” Of course she is. Kalinda nods. “This whole lawsuit depends on that rider,” Alicia realizes in horror. “Look, it was your first year here, is there any chance you could have…” Kalinda’s sympathetic, diplomatic, but Alicia cuts her off. “No!” “No, I mean, is there any chance you could have filed it somewhere else?” No, she doesn’t think so. “I have to tell Diane,” Alicia flounders.
Clad in a long greyish coat with a fur collar, Diane’s walking through the lobby and can’t understand Alicia over her cell phone. She hangs up, stops just at the turnstiles, and turns. “Well look who’s here,” she observes. TS&A greets her with a smile. “Mr. Copeland. Thank you for the poster, but the answer is no. I am not interested in having…” “Excuse me ,” he says, waving yet another yellow envelope and sprinting off across the lobby. “Mr. Dobbs – hello. Apologies,” he begins, trying to hand off the summons to a thin man in an unimaginative business suit. “It’s not me,” Dobbs declares, bats the envelope to the ground, and then – woah! – takes a wild swing at Copeland. Yikes! Diane’s shocked. Yes you are, and the summons is delivered, Copeland insists – and then wraps his arms around the man, picks him up, carries him over to a stone pillar and smashes his face up against it.
You sure don’t see that every day. Well, I don’t know. Maybe process servers do. Do they?
The summons is for you, it is your name, Copeland declares to the vainly struggling younger man. “Do you understand, please?” he asks. “Stop struggling!” This display of virility clearly impresses Diane. Ah, that’s what we all want, isn’t it, a big hairy caveman to throw us up against the wall and have his way with us? (Real answer; hell no!) Sigh. I think I might be a little disappointed in you, Diane Lockhart. “I’ll let you go, Mr. Dobbs, if you promise not to fight. Do you promise not to fight?” “Yes,” Dobbs grunts, his nose pressed up against the stone. Diane is practically panting.
Copeland backs away smartly; he’s clearly done this before. “Just take a few breaths, you’ll be fine,” Copeland advises. “I’ll sue your ass,” Dobbs waves at the other man wildly. Copeland takes a picture with his phone. “That’s the first impulse – but I’ve documented everything, and” – waving at Diane – “there are witnesses.” Should have been plenty of other people in that lobby, too. We can see at least one. “You’ve been served, Mr. Dobbs!” he calls out after Dobbs’ retreating back. “You were saying,” he asks Diane, smoothly and without pause.
“That happens all the time?” she wonders. “No, no. Well, sometimes. Nice people are pretty good about it.” He advances toward her, smiling. “I wasn’t here to see you. It was the same building. I serve this district.” She’s embarrassed, and smiles widely. “Oh, I see,” she splutters. “Well I, I misunderstood.” He nods. “It’s very nice to see you again,” he says. “It’s very nice to see you, too,” she smiles. And she means it. She watches avidly as he walks away.
The conference room, on the other hand, is a much less happy place.Diane throws down her coat and looks at the grave faces. “What happened?” We can’t find the rider, Kalinda admits. “I filed it, but we can’t find it,” Alicia says. “I was supervising Alicia, I know she signed it,” David Lee agrees; he’s the only one sitting. “Then where is it?,” Julius Cain asks. “Would you stop cheering for disaster?” David looks up at Julius. “I’m not cheering for anything,” Julius insists. And these two were going to start a firm with Diane? Boy did she dodge a bullet. “This is an IT problem,” Will insists. Oooh, will they call in Zach, I wonder, for forensic IT? “No it’s not,” Diane disagrees, “It’s all our problems.”
Alicia gulps.”I’m sorry, I know I logged it.” Julius leans on the table (and again, his ties are really quite bold); he shakes his head. “It was your first year, Alicia. Are you sure?” Yes, she says, and Diane dismisses her. She walks out of the room, distressed and alone.
“So. Clause 63,” David Lee remarks with false cheeriness as he opens Eli’s office door. Uh oh. Get out of the way of the fan, Eli. “Yeah,” he says snidely, “Clause 63.” Lee strolls around the office, hands in his pockets. “People have come after me before, random people, but you’re the first to do it so baldly. Nice office,” he adds. “Thank you,” Eli replies. “You have a lot of square footage,” David Lee observes. It feel weird to just call him David; he’s David Lee, all together. Eli claims he doesn’t keep track. “How much are you bringing in a year?” Lee asks. “I haven’t been here long enough to judge,” Eli reminds his colleague. “Yet you feel comfortable enough to try and get me dumped,” is the reply. Quite so. It is a bold move. But the boldness would make it all the more attractive to Eli. “Yup. I guess I do. Is that a get to know each other session, or are we confronting each other?” In his travels, David Lee has picked up a glass ball and is tossing it. “You are gone,” David Lee answers – and clearly, it’s the latter. “You are so gone you might as well clean out your desk.” “Really?” Eli asks. “And why is that?” Because David Lee will insist on it. “Oh no,” Eli smirks. “I’m sorry.”
“You don’t clause 63 me,” Lee shakes his head, appalled, “I clause 63 you.” Hee. “Yeah, that might have worked at another time, but you screwed up, Buddy. And people who screw up can’t act like they didn’t. They have to act contrite. And just so you know – contrite? Is not this.” Lee’s pretty nearly blowing steam out his ears, he’s so infuriated. He heaves the glass ball at Eli’s face; Eli catches it smoothly. “Okay. This was fun,” he says, leaving. “Just so you know,” Eli calls after him, “I was going to leave. I had plans to leave. But now, you made it worth my while.” Lee gives a fake chuckle. “Nice to meet you. Buddy.”
Well, it’s nice to see Eli recovered from his crippling self doubt, isn’t it? It is, right?
Alicia stares disconsolately at a picture of Zach and Grace. Call Zach! Sic him at the grumpy IT guy! Kalinda knocks on the door. “Do you have a moment?” Sure, Alicia says glumly. “Diane has asked me to get your best memory of what happened,” Kalinda explains, waving her notebook in the air. “Sure, let’s go for,” Alicia mopes, rolling her eyes. Kalinda puts paper on Alicia’s desk. “Do you remember what time of day the contract was signed?” After refreshing her memory with her day planner, she can say it was at 11. Wow, the sarcasm. Bitter much? (I mean, of course she is, can you imagine the pressure? But, ugh.) “I’m sorry I have to ask you this, but do you know where you went after?” Her day planner has informed her there was a function – an assembly – at Grace’s school. “And when you left, you filed the contract?” Yes, Alicia says. “Mrs Huntley and her lawyer retained two executed copies and we retained one.” Her lawyer? What does that mean? Aren’t you her lawyer? “Which you filed.” Yes. “In the active drawer.”
Did Alicia make the photocopy, or was it a paralegal? It was Alicia. Who personally filed it in the archive. Kalinda writes quickly. “And the rider was separate?” Alicia’s head rears back in surprise. “I don’t remember!” she breathes, horrified. “Did you have to attach the rider to the contract?” Kalinda asks. “I don’t remember,” Alicia cries, hand to her mouth. Oh dear. Not good. “No.” “You don’t remember?” “No!” Kalinda tries to call Alicia back from her turmoil. You remember signing it, right? “I’m gonna write that down as a yes.”
“I don’t remember!” Alicia leans forward, completely at a loss. “I’m going to write that down as a yes,” Kalinda repeats. “NO! I don’t remember!” Alicia’s distraught. And just at this moment, the door opens. And it’s David Lee. “Alicia Florrick?” “Yes?” He leans on the chair backs in front of her desk. “We found the rider.”
Alicia almost collapses in relief. Her head falls down, and when she looks back up, there are tears in her eyes. “Where?” “Cary’s files – they were moved into storage when we did the expansion.” Kalinda covers her smile with a hand. “We found a hard copy,” David Lee relishes the words. Alicia blows out a sigh, trying to control her emotions. She nods, shaking her head.
“We have it,” Diane cries triumphantly, “we’re good!” Will receives the copy from Diane’s hands; Alicia and Kalinda stand with him. They’re all smiling, giddy. “You must have been killing yourself,” Will says to Alicia. Yes, she was. “Thanks,” she adds. “So I’ll get on the phone with Mr. Preston. Why should we delay the good news for him?” Will says, and off he goes. David Lee walks behind Alicia. “There it is,” he beams, “the rider, April Huntley’s signature, and your confirming signature. Hhmph.” he ticks them off with a happy flick of his hand. He starts snickering happily, wickedly with Diane, as Alicia stares at the paper with dawning alarm. Kalinda returns her look of concern.
And there’s the binder with Zach and Grace’s trust fund information. Alicia looks through it, counting in her head, distressed.
“But, you’re not sure,” Diane questioned, back in her office. She’s not so thrilled looking anymore. “Am I sure this rider is something David Lee slipped to me to sign, no.” Oh dear. Well, we all know he’s capable of it, and he’s got 44 million reasons. But honestly, she remembers signing documents from 2 years ago, but didn’t read these? “I just – I think there were 6 pages in my children’s trust that I signed, and now there are five.” Diane looks grave. “But you’re not certain?” “One hundred percent certain, no.” But reasonably certain, that’s clear. And it is suspicious – but how could he have assumed she wouldn’t read the page? “Then I think you have to commit to your best memory of events,” Diane declares. Alicia doesn’t get it. “You remember seeing this rider be signed 2 years ago?” Yes. “You’re sure of that?” Yes. “And you’re not sure whether this rider page is different?” That’s correct.
“Testimony is about your best memory. You go with your best memory,” Diane declares. How convenient. What if her best memory didn’t save the firm 44 million dollars? “What if it’s wrong?” Then Diane comes out with one of the most lawyerly, sophistical responses we’ve ever heard on this show. “Testimony isn’t about right or wrong, Alicia. It’s about the facts as established by your best memory of events.” Now, okay, to be fair, there’s a way in which this is true. We second guess our memories all the time. We over think things. Who hasn’t done that? The past changes on us, slips through our grasp no matter how tight and sticky our grip.
“Your memory is this; you saw the rider being signed. That’s the fact. It’s not up to me to do my opponents job for him.” Well, right, but questioning the appearance of things is surely everyone’s job? Not that they’d want to pay out that money even if they actually owed it. “It’s up to Mr. Preston to pole holes in your testimony. You do not poke holes in your own. Do you understand?” She does, and she leaves. But it’s clear she doesn’t like it. Diane turns away from the unpleasant conundrum, and smiles fondly at her cardboard tube.
(Okay, that is literally true, but it sounds so weird.)
Out on the street, there’s an elephant in a pink tutu surrounded by small children muffled in mittens and scarves. Which is to say, there’s a person in an elephant costume surrounded by those small children. Wendy Scott-Carr advises her young daughters to put something on the ground and not run away, or at least that what it sounds like she’s murmuring. She sends them off with a smile. “Hello!” a typically perky Elsbeth Tascioni says. Hello, Elsbeth Tascioni! Gosh, this show has the best supporting characters ever. Have I said lately how much I love the myriad ways they find of showing us women who succeed in the workplace? Because I feel like they’re particularly brilliant at that. Wendy smiles and responds in kind. “I heard this play is really good,” she goes on, adding “I like anything with bears!” Wendy smiles more; yes, bears are wonderful. Actually, there’s a big bear suited person about ten feet behind Elsbeth. “You’re Wendy Scott-Carr, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” smiles Wendy, “are you from the State’s Attorney’s office?” Oh no, never. “I’m a lawyer!” Right, because they don’t have those in the State’s Attorney’s office. “Representing Will Gardner,” Elsbeth clarifies. Wendy laughs to herself, throwing her head back, and her smile changes from a normal public face to her false, more exaggerated work one. “I see. He hired a lawyer.” Well, he told you he would. Yes, giggles Elsbeth, though we haven’t worked out all the details yet. “I know that you met with my client, and I don’t think you should do that again without my being there.” Elsbeth’s so apologetic it seems to disarm Wendy a little. “If that’s what you’d like,” she shrugs, looking for her girls in the crowd outside the theater. “It is. I hope you don’t mind.” The little girls rush back and show their mother what’s presumably the elephant’s autograph. “He even put your names in it!” Well, maybe it was the bear. The elephant didn’t look like a he. Though who am I to judge? Wendy suggests the girls go trolling for more characters to sign their programs – maybe the lion. “Oooh, say hi for me!” Elsbeth calls out to them. Wendy turns to her, annoyed. “Your client bribed several judges, Miss Tascioni,” she declares before turning her back.
“Yes, well, funny you should bring that up,” Elsbeth says. “A reporter called me today, from the Chicago Tribune? Lovely man. And he asked me about these three judges that Mr. Gardner supposedly bribed…” Wendy cuts in to say she hasn’t talked to the press. “No, I didn’t think you did,” Elsbeth’s quick to reassure her. Ha! You know she didn’t. (I’m sure it’s truer to say the reporter called her back.) “Anyway, he said if it was true in fact that they were Howard, Spinelli and Cotter, and I said I didn’t know.” You can see that she’s looking to get a rise out of Wendy as she says the names, and she’s not disappointed; they make Wendy turn around. “I’m not investigating them,” she says. “You know, I thought probably not!” Elsbeth pats Wendy on the shoulder. “Because, as I said to this reporter, those are three of the most honest and beloved judges on the bench, and that would put you in a difficult position at the court house, with all those judges…very angry… at you…” The faces she is making, man, seriously. You read these words, and they don’t really give you the sense of character you get from watching Carrie Preston work her magic. Because it really is magic – her hesitations, her odd elongation of words, her diffident and apologetic manner, her bumbling Columbo-like charm.
“You leaked those names?” Wendy practically hisses. Elsbeth laughs. “I can bring obstruction of justice charges against you right now.” Wendy’s smile is predatory. “Yes, you’ll need a judge to sanction those charges, and I think you’ll find them in an uncooperative mood right now.” See, that looks like a flat, basic threat, but that’s not at all how she read the line. Just in time, Wendy’s daughters arrive, and she starts to move away. “Your client better get ready for an indictment,” she threatens over her shoulder. Elsbeth moves along with her. “No, he doesn’t need to be ready, cause, you know, I am!”
Wendy spins around so she’s right in Elsbeth’s face. “I’m sure we’ll meet again,” she threatens. “Oh, I can’t wait,” Elsbeth smiles happily. She managed to outsmile Wendy. Really quite impressive.
“This is absurd!” the sonorous tones of Burl Preston declare. Seriously, dude could be an old school elocution teacher. He’s standing in front of the assembled L/G team, who are seated, and he’s staring at the maybe-fake last minute miracle rider. “Do you expect me to believe that this critical document surfaced at exactly the right time?” Alicia, sitting off behind David Lee and Diane, looks ready to hurl. Inelegant, but there it is. “Are you suggesting that this is a forgery?” David Lee brazens it out. “I am!” Preston roars. “Then I’m offended,” Diane replies, chin up. Preston looks slightly chastened. “Then we’d like to re-depose the parties involved to vouch for the document’s legitimacy. ” His finger stabs the air above the paper and the table. “And another first year associate who also worked on the divorce we’ve yet to depose – Cary Agos.”
Alicia looks even more nauseated. “Certainly,” Diane agrees, even though Cary’s time really isn’t hers to dispose of. “Why don’t we arrange a time tomorrow?” They leave it at that.
Down in the lobby (wow, twice in one episode! we almost never see the downstairs lobby) Diane walks through the turnstiles in darkness. Jack Copeland leans against a stone pillar – the very pillar to which he pressed Mr. Dobbs’s face. He calls out to Diane, who turns in surprise. “Oh! Working late?” He isn’t. She’s not sure how to take it. “You’re not?” “No.” She’s unsettled. “Then what’re you doing here?” “Something that might help you with your… summons.” Oh, interesting.
“My summons?” “Yes,” he smiles, “your lawsuit. Mr. Huntley had to sign off on the summons before I delivered them.” And? “And he wasn’t at his wife’s apartment.” Oh. Now that’s really interesting.
Cary sits at the head of the conference table, with Diane to his left and Preston to his right. Alicia, in red for the new day, hides her terror from a seat along the back wall. Does Cary recognize this document, Preston asks, placing the precious rider before him. “No,” Cary declares decisively. All is lost! “You’ve never seen it before?” No. “You worked on this divorce case alongside Alicia Florrick and under the supervision of David Lee?” He did. “So you were in a perfect position to see such a document,” Preston claims, placing the paper back in a folder.
“Not necessarily,” Cary shrugs. Preston looks up in surprise. “But you worked closely on that case!”
“Yes,” Cary agrees, “but it’s been two years. I couldn’t tell you a single document that’s in that case, to be honest.” Excellent. Excellent. Preston takes off his dark glasses and stares at Cary. Wow, that is another wild and crazy paisley tie. “Do you have any idea how a document signed by Alicia Florrick got into your files in the first place?” Cary waves his water glass. “Sure. We shared an assistant. Things got mixed up sometimes.” I wonder what happened to Courtney – did the show drop her? I liked her. I like this Cary, too – he’s appealingly no nonsense. “Ah,” says Preston thoughtfully. “You were fired from this firm, is that correct?” Surely laid off is a fairer term, but Cary doesn’t protest it. “So, your testimony may be influenced by the fact that you want your job back?” Cary smiles.
“I can see that you have a yarn you want to spin, Mr. Preston, so let me just go ahead and lay this out clearly for you: I have absolutely no reason to suspect that document is a forgery. I knew Mrs. Florrick and Mr. Lee to be outstanding, competent and ethical attorneys throughout my time at the firm.” Alicia looks down at her lap, discomfited. “And as for me, I have no vested interest in the outcome of this case. I don’t work here and I don’t intend to.” Diane smiles her proud approval. “Any additional questions?” Cary asks before taking a sip of water.
As Cary pushes the button for the elevator, we see that Alicia’s waiting behind him, practically wringing her hands. “Thank you,” she tells him softly. “You’re welcome,” he replies. She looks up, confusion plain on her face. “I don’t get it,” she says. Where did that axe go? The one he’s been grinding for ever? “Ah, wow,” he laughs. ‘What’s so funny?” she wonders. The elevator doors open. “Things change,” he tells her. Nice. She almost smiles. “They do,” she agrees. Peace! Peace between them! The bitterness of the past has dissolved! Cary turns at the elevator door. “I like working with your husband.” Now she does smile, brightly. “He likes working with you, too.” Cary’s found his place, and how can he resent the events that put him there? He never would have found his happiness here, and he knows it now. It’s kind of a spectacular thing to see.
We move from that moment of grace to a more divided one, to winners and losers. “Given that you’ve been unable to prove that the document is anything less than authentic, you’re not left with much of a case,” Diane explains. Preston, of course, would dispute that. Next to Preston sit the Huntleys, hands entwined. “We intend to get a forensic examination of the document, to uncover whether the ink is two years or two days old.” Uh oh. “That’s ambitious,” David Lee drawls, “and it’ll run you about thirty thousand dollars.” Diane picks up the flow smoothly. “So we would offer that same thirty thousand dollars as a good will gesture.” Absolutely not, sneers Jake Huntley. “Well, then, this is our final offer,” Diane looks at David, then pushes a thick manila envelope across the table to April Huntley. As she opens it, the classical music from the opening scene begins again, those plucky strings proving contrast to the money shot of Mr. Huntley in delicto flagrante. A relationship begins, a relationship ends. Nice symmetry.
The blond with Huntley in the photographs is in her underwear. Nothing to misunderstand here! There’s no mistaking that for a peck on the cheek! “Those are fake!” he cries out. “You’ll probably have to do better than that,” David Lee tells him dryly. “They were probably taken when we were split,” is his way of thinking on his feet. “I bought you that shirt last week!” Aprils accuses. Uh, oh. Here it comes. “Honey, just stay calm,” Huntley attempts vainly. “You disgusting piece of …” Preston puts a restraining hand on her arm, so instead of swearing, April struggles out of the room, taking her coat and her bag and their hopes of winning back the lost windfall with her. Diane and David smile at each other.
“It’s not true, your Honor” Wendy Scott-Carr reassures a judge through her handset. She’s in her office, besieged by ringing. “Yes, there is an investigation, but the article as reported is not true,” Wendy insists. Cary walks in, a hand over his own cell phone. “Cotter,” he whispers. “Your Honor, I have a judge on the other one line.” You have a judge on this one, too, chickie. Be careful! “I… I’ll call you back,” she says, and hangs up. “Judge Howard’s in the waiting room,” Cary tells her. Ha! She sighs, and shakes her head. “We have to take the fight back to her,” she muses. Yep, of course you do. That’s the point of this whole exercise, Wendy. You’re not paying attention. “Back to?” Cary asks, not following. Wendy snorts, looks up at him, considering. “We have to indict Will Gardner,” she smiles.
Eli and David Lee sit at the far ends of Diane’s elegant little sofa, snapping at each other. Really, they’re just trying to say their own piece, recite their own impressive sounding lines. “Stop it! Both of you!” she hollers. “Stop what, I’m not bluffing,” Lee shrugs. “You work at opposite ends of the building. You barely see each other.” She crosses her arms and stares down at them, lofty and above their petty nonsense. “It’s not about seeing each other, it’s about him costing me 1.2 million dollars!” Yes, Eli, which you know is not going to happen, so what was your point again? “If you’d like me to go somewhere else, Diane, just say the word,” David offers innocently. “No, David,” she thunders, exasperated. “You will stay here because we leave you alone.”
He huffs. “Somewhere else will leave me just as alone.” No they won’t, Diane tells him with such conviction that we believe her. “Not the way we will, and you know it. It’s a new economy.” He looks up at her, outraged. “People have to divorce.” Have to might not be exactly the phrase you’re looking for, David. “This lawsuit cost you. That is a simple fact. You’re a risk, and everybody knows that. So stop threatening.” David looks pained, so she moves on. “And Eli, you’re staying because this job is a temporary one for you, until the governor’s campaign. Tell me that I’m wrong.” He rounds his mouth, prepared to complain. “Good,” she overrides whatever oratory was fermenting, “this is an office of expediency. That is it’s strength. So stop bickering. And stop pretending like you’ll leave, I won’t have it!” She looks down at them, like a mother, like a school teacher, like a queen. “I’m going back to work,” David Lee declares, not looking at her as he leaves, tail between his legs. “Good,” she says, “Eli?” They stare at each other; he tosses up his hands in quiet defeat, and slinks off. She sighs in profound relief that they’ve submitted to her will.
And almost as if present from the universe, who does she see in the waiting area outside her office, but Jack Copeland, with something in his hands. Their song is still playing. She walks out to meet him, smiling. “You’re back!” she greets him, pleased. They grin at each other, and establish that they are both fine. The air between them crackles. “I’m sorry. I requested this job so I would see you again.” “Uh oh,” she says, looking at the yellow envelope in his hands. “What’s that?”
Copeland turns away from her to Will, who’s walking toward his office. He hands over the envelope. “Mr. Gardner, you’ve been served.”
And there we have it. Happy 2012! I’m really pleased with this episode. It was a terrific start to the new year, particularly because it’s starting to pull disparate plot threads together into a satisfying pattern. And it was lighter on the personal drama, which felt kind of – restful. Just entertaining. Not that I don’t love the drama, but variety is good. Humor is good. Pratfalls and fancy dress; good.
Now. Okay. Was it a technical mistake to call Wendy’s bluff, considering that Will and Diane really really really didn’t want this to go to a grand jury? Or is it just accelerating the pace of something we knew would happen? More, of making it happen on our time, when we know Wendy’s not ready? Why am I even doubting the brilliance of Elsbeth’s plan?
Because, Elsbeth! Hurray! What can I say now that I didn’t say already? She’s the bomb. I’m thrilled to have seen her and even happily to realize we’ll be seeing even more of her. Good news for us.
And really, how much do you love an episode that begins and ends with Diane? I mean, pretty great, right? Excellent to see her whipping everyone into shape, and getting attention from a charming and handsome stranger. That’s good stuff. We haven’t gotten enough Diane, so this episode was a well deserved feast for the fantastic Christine Baranski and for us. And, let’s face it, it’s nice to see David Lee get smacked around a little. And it goes without saying that it was nice to see Wendy Scott-Carr thrown off her game as well. Although, I’m still not entirely sure how she’s intending to get Peter through Will and clearly that was the thing he could have offered if he took up Lionel’s lay-down-and-play-dead plan, right?
We all know I’m annoyed with him for not telling Alicia what’s going on. But I wonder, should we be annoyed that he’s not telling Peter? Presumably, if Peter knew he was the real intended target, he would work with Will to take down Wendy. Isn’t that the natural play? So why isn’t he making it? Is the show going to use Wendy to actually take Peter down? Curious and curiouser.
Speaking of guest stars, I really enjoy Burl Preston, but I couldn’t help thinking of Iain Glen’s ominous character in Wives & Daughters every time I wrote his name. Especially since Glen showed up on the premier episode of Downton Abbey Sunday night. What is it with Sundays suddenly? The Good Wife, Once Upon A Time, Downton Abbey, and this coming weekend, The Golden Globes! I might be the tiniest bit late this coming week because of the abundance of bloggable wonderfulness. But I’ll be back, as always, and as excited as ever to talk Good Wife with you. So sound off! Did you like Alienation of Affection as much as I did? Are you looking forward to the return of Bob Balaban (costar of Gosford Park, Golden Globe and Oscar nominated film written by Downton Abbey‘s writer Julian Fellowes – see, it all fits!) as the sweet toothed, persnickety Treasury agent? Are you dancing like an tutu-wearing elephant at the prospect of seeing Elsbeth really take on Wendy Scott-Carr? Do you have any doubt about who’ll win? You know I want to know what you think.